Do you sometimes feel the gigantic sucking sound of social media taking years away from your life? The endless cat photos, memes with pictures that suddenly becomes funny when someone slaps on a few words, and a streaming newsfeed that never stops. Lest we not forget the incessant babble of pictures. Row after row of people you think would make great connections, which blend into one gigantic mesh of a social media profile.
Maybe your time would be better spent, if instead you could devote 15-30 highly focused minutes every day on social media for your business. If that sounds like a swell idea then let’s talk about how to turn that into a reality.
Below you will find five practical ideas to cut out the flotsam from your social media marketing. They range from the big thinking ideas to the minute details that some of us forget as we continue to use social networks every day.
You might want to get out a pad of paper and a pen or open your Evernote account, because the idea here is to create a plan of action as much as it is to cut down on the amount of time that you spend on social networks every day. The two are intrinsically connected, as you will see.
For the advice to work, you have to take an active part in this process. I was going to use the famous Jerry Maguire line, “Help Me Help You,” but that just seems a bit cheesy. Instead, let’s go straight into how to focus your social media efforts.
Clarify What You Want from Social Media
Most people spend too much time social networking, because they have no clue what their social media goals are. It happens to everyone, you go in to learn how to use Facebook updates, and 25 cute cat pictures later you forgot how you even got there.
Determine exactly what you want, and how you will get it.
For example, you set a goal to set up two appointments per week using social media. How will that work in terms of numbers? If you are on LinkedIn, maybe you reach out via a LinkedIn message (or inMail if you are not connected) to 10 people.
Take another scenario. Do you want to build your blog’s subscriber list using Twitter? If you add 10 quality followers every day then you could expect about two of those followers to sign up for your blog updates.
The idea here is to focus on what really works. Using the often-quoted Pareto principle, determine which 20% of your efforts deliver the most value. Focus on that 20% and drop the 80% that does not work.
Three questions to ask to clarify your social media activity:
- What are your goals?
- How do you plan on achieving these goals?
- Why are these goals important to your overall business plan?
Start thinking big picture with your social media plan. Think about where you want to be in one year. Then once you have a specific, measurable goal, you can fill in the blanks.
Stop Being a Platform Jumper
Let’s play this game. How many people have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Vine, Skype, YouTube, StumbleUpon, and Instagram accounts? Now for those that answered yes to at least 5 platforms or more, are you on each platform every day?
If we take an educated guess here that maybe 50% of people reading this article have more than five social media accounts. Next guess is that at most 5% of all readers actually visit those five accounts every day.
Imagine spending 15-30 minutes daily on each platform. That could easily amount to 4-5 hours every day just social networking. That in turn leads to a whole lot of nothing happening in your business, since there is little time left to do any actual work.
Balance is huge! This is especially true in social media.
The reality, however, is this. If you are a lawyer, CPA, financial professional, or B2B salesperson you can probably survive on business from just LinkedIn. Bloggers and techies might want to focus more on Google+ and Twitter. I have seen retail store owners do very well exclusively on Google+ Local, Yelp, and Instagram.
We talked about having the end in mind, and then filling out the rest from your goals. Determining which platform you use will derive from the goals you have in business.
To help you choose the right platform for your business, answer these three questions:
- Where does your target audience hang out?
- Can you create relationships with prospects?
- Which social network can you do this in the least amount of time with the greatest results?
Automate Your Social Media Updates
We spent the first two sections planning. However, social media is all about action. That means we need to start taking action on social media to be successful. Planning is great, but action is what matters. The challenge for many entrepreneurs is that they get bogged down in planning and figuring out what they want that when it comes to creating content for social media they get overwhelmed.
That is why I encourage you to automate your social media updates. To clarify, what I am talking about does require some work and planning, but will be infinitely easier than posting every day. Let me use an example to clarify what I mean.
Have you ever spoken with a printer about creating flyers for your business? The first 100 flyers might cost $100, because they have all the setup costs included in the price. However, you can get a second 100 for only $10 more. The reason is that printers have to spend the time setting up your print specifications, but once it is complete they can easily print more.
Writing social media updates are similar. Start thinking about what your prospect and clients want, and you will probably come up with 5, 10, or 15 superior tweets in less time than it would take to come up with the ‘blah’ you might force out every day.
If you do everything in short, ”intense bursts of time”, as Timothy Ferriss calls them, then you can accomplish more with your time and spend your time building relationships on social networks. Instead of stressing out every day over content, you can stress out finding the right people to speak to who will help build your business.
Furthermore, using social media tools like Hootsuite and SocialOomph, you can schedule hundreds of tweets at once that will be delivered over the course of time. Make your life easier, so you can focus on building quality relationships.
Mom Was Right! Click Save Even On LinkedIn
Are you constantly searching for the same type of prospects on LinkedIn? If so, then you need to save your searches. Creating one takes only a few minutes, but every time after that, using a saved search will let you start digging for prospects immediately.
Even free accounts on LinkedIn come with three saved searches. If that’s all you have to work with, use these three saved search slots for clients, referral partners, and vendors. Then whenever you are in need of expanding one of these groups you can search for them on LinkedIn with just one click.
Share Your Blog Posts Everywhere
Use content management systems to spread your content throughout Social Media. With so many options available, below we break down which ones can help you spread the word across which social networks.
HootSuite: The industry go-to app, where you can share your posts through an RSS feed. Hootsuite has sharing options for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. You can also check out the library of useful HootSuite apps.
ViralTags: Do you want to schedule out all the images on your blog posts at different intervals in the day? ViralTags allows you to start organizing your Pins, so you can become more consistent with your content on this visual social network.
Next Scripts: One of my favorite WordPress plugins of 2013 after Ping.fm shuttered their service. Next Scripts is great for automatically sharing your WordPress posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and other social networks. The plugin even has some premium options for using Pinterest and Google+ scheduling.
Cat Pictures Productivity Test
If you “like” three cat pictures today, time to move on to other business. Remember there is a difference between a productive conversation on Facebook where you engage with other users’ posts, and filling in the time to avoid “real work.”
As a cat owner, I too have fell victim, but if you keep tabs on how many funny pictures you like from people in your network versus how many productive questions you answer from real prospects you will get a better idea of how much time you really need to spend social networking each day to get results.
I know this title seems a bit too good to be true, but for those who are in B2B; this is a great way to automate business leads. Essentially, you can connect with targeted prospects using a combination of IFTTT and email marketing.
IFTTT.com – lead generation in a bottle, delivered to you in email (great for attorneys, real estate brokers, digital marketers, etc.) In most professions, people are constantly asking questions or asking for help online. If you could be there whenever they asked for help, you would increase the amount of business you get, right?
The answer to that should be yes. So, here is a brief two and a half minute video of how I get free leads emailed to my inbox every day.
Now, imagine you are a mortgage broker or real estate agent. You find the FSBO section of Craigslist, and with each new post email them to find out if you can help them with your services.
Let’s take another example. Suppose you were to use the Social Question site, Quora. They have various topics, like Law where people ask questions all the time. If you want to limit the questions to a specific geography you can do that with the manage tab at the top.
All Quora tabs can be turned into RSS feeds, which you can then use for the same process discussed in the video above to automate leads to your email. All you need to do is find the Quora category, which you do by using the search feature at the top of the page.
So, for example the Law category would go from:
Remove everything after the category name in the URL and just add RSS. Hit enter to make sure it works. Then follow the instructions for IFTTT.
You can then have people asking you legal questions, which are pertinent to them. All you have to do is follow up on a few a day, and over time you will start seeing more and more people asking about your services. Note: Make sure you do not use personal or potentially illegal information online. Answering questions is good! Breaking the law is bad!
Putting It All Together
Now that you have all the strategies and tools to reduce your time on social media every day, you have to determine which ones work best for you.
Go step by step and figure out what works and what does not. You might have to test out various elements of your plan, because you will not figure everything out in one day. However, a good plan based on action is always better than wandering around social media like a vagabond salesperson.
Let me know in the comments below which strategies and tools worked and did not work for you? If there is some way I can help you improve your social media efforts then I definitely want to know.